Hue’s Reviews: What We Lose

Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor—someone, or something, to love. 

In arresting and unsettling prose, we watch Thandi’s life unfold, from losing her mother and learning to live without the person who has most profoundly shaped her existence, to her own encounters with romance and unexpected motherhood. Through exquisite and emotional vignettes, Clemmons creates a stunning portrayal of what it means to choose to live, after loss. An elegiac distillation, at once intellectual and visceral, of a young woman’s understanding of absence and identity that spans continents and decades, What We Lose heralds the arrival of a virtuosic new voice in fiction. – Goodreads

Throughout my life, coming-of-age novels peppered themselves onto bookshelves whenever I ventured. In these novels, heartbreak, love, loss, and joys scattered their footprints, asking me to grasp the main character’s journey by finding similarity.

Most of the time, they failed as they offered two hundred and more pages of a life I witnessed on television and movie matinees. Bottled in blonde ponytails and bouncy curl drenched in Prell shampoo, any hardships described on the page felt sweeter than my actual life. Their attempts at connection rang hollow, because as a black girl (woman), what should have united us (e.g. girlhood, womanhood) ignored vital intersections that  rendered their stories “cute” and not to be taken seriously. No, Becky with the good hair, we could be friends, but you’ll never understand me, even if you tried.

Via intimate, unsettling, and pining vignettes, Zinzi Clemmons’ What We Lose gifted me one of the few options of a coming-of-age novel that rang more true than I anticipated. Race, family, loss, sex, and identity cultivated this novel. Despite the fifteen years or so, separating me from the author, her heroine, Thandi, the daughter of a South African “colored” woman and a light-skinned black American man, mirrored experiences founding my life’s walls. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she navigated her life with privileges her multicultural background granted, while trying to interpret her carbon footprint in society. When not pulled between worlds – black and white, American and South African, she hashes rich and middle-class by realizing the gumbo her life created and how those outside do not benefit.

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Hue’s Reviews: The Mothers

Every Sunday in every Baptist church lies a thousand stories. Some imagined. Some whispered. Some embellished. Over Sunday dinner plates and soft hums uttered by the grand dames, narrators share them. Some warm your heart and some divide your soul. They compel you to stare at the faces of the pastor, the choir director, and maybe the third usher sitting in the back unable to stare back.

Maybe a talented writer, such as Brit Bennett writes those stories and publishes them, presenting them with clear or open endings made more bittersweet before final offering.

Why did I take so long to read this tale? Did I find myself worried about the whispers? Or, did I connect with them? Make a cup of tea, gather some cookies, and start reading.

Plot

In her senior year of high school Nadia Turner’s living the life of a rebel heart. Despite attaining As in school, she runs through her Oceanside, CA surroundings seeking love and attention in all the wrong ways. Mourning her mother’s suicide refuses to ease…until she meets the local pastor’s son. Lucas Sheppard’s 21 and a former college football star, whose injury cut his career prospects short. Enjoying each other’s company, she becomes pregnant.

Spoiler dead ahead…

……..

She aborts, while maintaining her desire to attend college and live the fulfilling life her mother missed. Since Lucas is the only one to know of her decision – according to her – she moves on and meets Aubrey, someone she designates as a “good girl” with a sad past of her own. They become good friends, even as Nadia leaves home and strives to make her dreams come true.

Secrets never stay quiet.

As each of them grow into adults, their pasts collide. But, at what cost? Who’s watching?

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Aside

Goodreads Reading Challenge Progress Report

 

 

Okay, I’m late with this one. But, better late than never.

Each year, I participate in Goodreads annual reading challenge. I like to keep track of the various stories I read, pushing myself further into bookdom without care.

As of July 13th, I’ve read:

  • 97 out of 85 books (I give myself a small goal in case life happens). I’m at 114% over my goal.
  • 21,022 pages read
  • 4 audiobooks
  • 3.58 average rating
  • I’m a definite fiction reader. I should read a nonfictional book before the year’s finish.


…and maybe others to help your health…never mind

Do you participate? If so, what’s your goal? How are you doing? Finished?

Keep reading and stay strong during your challenge!

Crafty

 

Monday, Monday, So Read-y To Me…

Good Monday, Everyone!

How did your weekend go? Fast? Exciting? Slow? Wakey. Wakey. Time to experience another week.

All I seek is quiet and calm during mine. However, with two kids and a husband, asking is all I’m granted. Yet, with books and a cup of tea by my side (What you think I stop drinking tea because the air outside resembles a sauna? Nevah!!!!), my quiet finds me.

As a matter of fact, my youngest son grants me peace and quiet for four hours. Why? SUMMER CAMP!! If you’re a mom, believe in the power of summer camps. Sure, the kids receive academic enrichment, swimming, and arts and crafts. But, the silver lining for us includes more time to read, no fights over the last popsicle, and having kids so drained and pooped, they beg for naps.

Glory be to summer camps!

Anyway, along with my weekly novels, I add about five short stories or audiobooks to the mix for diversity and new reading experiences. Keep reading fresh, fun, and free from slumps! *Knock on wood*

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Hue’s Reviews: Bad Romance

As mentioned in my review of Paper Butterflies, abuse, as a trope, requires proper handling for me to read and respect. If placed in less capable hands, I throw the book into the torture porn (Allegedly), which I dislike. Abuse earns itself as a plot device never to be used irresponsibly.

Thus, as I approached Heather Demetrios’ Bad Romance, I prepared to roll my eyes until they popped. Thankfully, the book proved me wrong. This story promised to break your heart and caution anyone into reading abusive signs in their loved ones. Demetrios’ offered no sugarcoating of domestic violence. Frankness abounded each page, providing the real drama some deal with daily. This book saddened, angered, and upset me. But, it would not be a good tale, if it did not.

Good job!

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Monday, Monday So Read-y To Me…

Good Monday, Everyone!

How did your weekend go? Fast? Exciting? Slow? Wakey. Wakey. Time to experience another week.

As for me, I have found myself at a conundrum book dragons contemplate: visiting and buying in bookstores vs. online buying. On Saturday, I visited one of my favorite and local bookstores, Vroman’s Bookstore (Bookish Heaven #1) . Two stories of a book dragon’s dream exists, where not only books live, but bookish stuff (e.g t-shirts, socks, bookmarks) beg for you to take them home. If you’re ever in L.A. or Pasadena, stop buy and support this independent slice of book heaven.

However, as a new fan of Shirley Jackson (better than Stephen King), I want to grab every story she’s ever written. During my visit, I agonized over a short story collection and one of her novels. With my budget and several pre-orders on their way, I could select one. While I picked the collection, I cried over it’s price ($16), knowing I could get it cheaper online. I bought it anyway.

Here’s the issue: when I came home, I looked on Amazon for a comparative price of $7.62 (an $8 savings). I became anxious. What do I do? Do I return the book and re-order on Amazon? Or, do I consider myself a part of the community striving to keep indie stores open? How can I keep supporting bookshops as cheaper options beg for my wallet’s attention?

Thankfully, my husband rushed in to my rescue. He said to be practical and achieve both. Order online when I want and visit stores when my budget opens space. I play a part as a bookshop supporter when I can and never mind naysayers.

What a smart husband. Steak dinner, honey?

True. Why feel guilty for having two options to share my book lust? Have you shared this conundrum? Please share below any tips you have to not feel guilty.

Enough drama. Back to books.

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My Firecrackin’ July TBR

Excuse the corn. July’s here and with this month’s arrival comes a new TBR. New stories. New escapes. New adventures. Literary fiction. Young adult. Adult fiction. These genres fill my list’s scopes.

Will I stick to the list? I’m pretty sure. But, sometimes a new book sashays my way and steals my attention. Who can blame me? I’m sensitive to shiny new things. Somehow I have a feeling a short story or two will sneak through the month. Maybe even an audiobook.

Summer’s well on its way with cookouts, parades, road trips and my top 5 bookish activity list I created (More about that soon!). My list excludes stories that are slow and heavy, but thrilling nonetheless.

…and away we go!

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